It’s over. It’s really, truly over.
Breaking Bad ended with a bang on Sunday, sending Walter Hartwell White off into the pages of television history in glorious fashion. An explosive ending to an explosive season, the Bad finale, titled “Felina,” easily and immediately ranks as one of our all-time favorite series finales. But how about some of our other favorites? In honor of the AMC drama’s departure, here are some of Spinoff Online’s favorite finales.
(Because we would be here forever without some boundaries, we’re limiting ourselves to shows that ended in the new millennium; there’s no touching the likes of M*A*S*H and Newhart. We’re also sticking to the one-hour drama and avoiding sitcom territory. No disrespect, Friends and The Office. Your finales were awesome.)
“All the Time in the World,” Alias
Many fans abandoned Sydney Bristow after she demolished SD-6 during the Super Bowl. That’s a satisfying ending in and of itself. But if you stuck with Alias through the end, the work was well worth it: a climactic battle against Irina Derevko, a brilliant ending for Arvin Sloane, and one of the most badass sacrifice plays ever captured on screen.
“Not Fade Away,” Angel
Tragedy. Sacrifice. Triumph. Words that are often associated with Joss Whedon’s work, and fully on display in the final episode of Angel, between the sudden deaths of fan-favorite characters like Wesley Wyndam-Price, Angel walking away from the Shanshu Prophecy, and Hamilton’s demise. Action-packed and full of heart. What more can you ask for from a Whedon finale?
“Discos and Dragons,” Freaks and Geeks
It could have continued. It should have continued. But it didn’t. And where it ended was honestly pretty perfect. Lindsay goes full-freak and abandons her summer program to chase the Grateful Dead. Daniel goes full-geek and joins Sam, Neal and Bill for an eventful night of Dungeons & Dragons. Nick leaves his worries behind on the groove line. Satisfying endings for just about every single character, even if you’re left wanting more.
“Always,” Friday Night Lights
Let me tell you something: You can take the Taylors out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the Taylors. Even as Coach and Tami Taylor move on to a new life in Philadelphia, the “Clear Eyes” mantra remains in their hearts, ensuring the finale could never lose. Add one last Riggins-fueled “Texas Forever” beer sesh, and you have one of the most satisfying series finales imaginable.
“Exeunt Omnes,” Oz
Not HBO’s best show by any stretch, but often its most satisfying. The ending was no different. Some take issue with the anthrax curve that displaces the prisoners from Oswald State Correctional Facility. Those same viewers forget that the anthrax killed all of the nazis in one fell swoop. Plus, there’s Schillinger’s climactic “Macbeth” death, Keller’s calculated suicide, and Alvarez’s deeply depressing unending ending. It was an over-the-top conclusion for an over-the-top show — in other words, pretty close to perfect.
“Family Meeting,” The Shield
Death’s easy. Life’s hard. That’s the lesson that Vic Mackey is forced to confront in the final moments of The Shield. He’s dodged more bullets than Neo by the end of the series, but was it worth losing his family and his identity as a street cop over? Based on Mackey’s final actions — violating his immunity agreement by grabbing a gun and hitting the streets — the answer is a resounding “nope.”
“Everyone’s Waiting,” Six Feet Under
Often cited as the greatest series finale of all time. We’ll stop short of such hyperbole, but holy feels, those finals few minutes represent everything good about drama. Words don’t do it justice. Just go watch it.
“Made in America,” The Sopranos
The words “Don’t Stop Believing” never carried more power. Sure, the abrupt cut to black wasn’t everybody’s basket of onion rings, but how can you get mad at an episode that ran a car over dead Phil Leotardo’s head and
“Hail Mary,” Terriers
It could have continued. It should have continued. But it didn’t. And where it ended was honestly pretty perfect. (That sounds familiar.) One of the most underrated and sadly underwatched shows of the last several years, Terriers ended on the same high-quality note that marked its entire run, punctuated by a perfect final scene: a literal fork in the road for friends and business partners Hank and Britt. Which path did they take? We’ll never know, but it’s still fun to think about.
“–30–,” The Wire
An uneven final season. A fantastic final episode. The serial killer story gets wrapped up in a neat red ribbon while McNulty and Freamon’s careers are eulogized by Baltimore’s
drunkest finest. Carcetti’s ambitions get him all the way to the Governor’s office. Daniels finally walks away from the force and fulfills his dreams of becoming a lawyer. And poor, poor Dookie. That’s just a small slice of the closure the final Wire episode gives to its fans — closure that was by no means guaranteed, given the sudden and jarring endings so many other fan-favorite characters received over the years.
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